The biggest Tory and Rishi Sunak gaffes of General Election campaign

The biggest Tory and Rishi Sunak gaffes of General Election campaign
Rishi Sunak announces general election on July 4 2024

Rishi Sunak has had a less than ideal start to his general election campaign, ever since announcing a snap election in the rain outside Downing Street.

The shambolic announcement kicked off a sequence of embarrassing moments, which have already become the stuff of internet lore – kicking off a meme free-for-all in the process.

These are the biggest Tory and Sunak gaffes which have already happened in the run up to the general election.

Being drowned out by a Labour anthem in the rain

It’s fair to say things got off to a very rocky start from the get-go.

Sunak’s surprise announcement took place in the worst possible conditions. Despite the shocking weather, the team inside Downing Street decided to hold the announcement outside Number 10 – and not in the new media briefing room that cost a few million pounds just a few years back.

As Sunak delivered the news that the UK would be taking to the polls on July 4th, the 90s classic 'Things Can Only Get Better' by D:Ream, which was an anthem for New Labour in 1997, was heard blaring out from speakers by protester Steve Bray at the gates of Downing Street.

Then, the rain really came down and left Sunak looking drenched and rather sad, while the internet had an absolute field day.

The Sky News reporter kicked out of campaign launch

A Sky News reporter was forcibly removed from Sunak's first election campaign rally, just hours after he called a general election.

"We were told because there were pool arrangements in place, we're not allowed to be here," the journalist explained, as he was dragged from the ExCel Centre by security.

It was on the evening that the early election was announced, and proved another incongruous moment on the day.

Going to the Titanic launch site

Sunak headed to the launch site of the Titanic during a visit to Northern Ireland's Titanic Quarter on his whistle-stop tour after announcing the election – and, of course, he was immediately asked whether he was captaining a "sinking ship".

Sunak visited Artemis Technologies, a local company which manufactures zero-emissions maritime technology with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris.

Announcing National Service and getting pushback from his own party

Sunak has pledged to bring back mandatory national service to create a "renewed sense of pride in our country" if he wins the upcoming general election on July 4.

It's the prime minister's new first policy of the election campaign that would see 18-year-olds choose between a full-time military placement in the Armed Forces or the UK’s cyber defences for 12 months or volunteer within the community for one weekend per month for a year.

This programme would cost £2.5bn, but the Conservatives say £1.5bn diverted from levelling up's UK Shared Prosperity Fund from 2028 while plans to crack down on tax avoidance and evasion would bring in another £1bn to fund the scheme.

However, Labour has slammed the plans as "desperate and unfunded" and noted how it echoed a similar policy idea former Prime Minister David Cameron had for 16-year-olds back in 2010 but it never materialised.

News of Sunak's plan to bring back mandatory military service quickly garnered reaction on social media, here are some of the best memes.

There’s been pushback from Sunak’s own party, too. A Tory defence minister warned that the plan to reintroduce national service would “damage morale” in the military. Andrew Murrison signed off a written answer to fellow Tory MP Mark Pritchard.

Failing to play football

Prime Ministers getting involved in football is rarely a good look, and new footage of Sunak showing his “embarrassing” football skills is even worse than you might imagine.

Sunak visited Chesham United Football Club and things didn’t go as well as he’d hoped after getting involved in a training session. The PM, dressed in a white shirt and suit trousers, made a pretty appalling attempt at dribbling round a set of cones…

Failing to find the camera

The latest faux pas saw Sunak looking the wrong way during a media appearance on Tuesday (May 28). At this point, everything is looking like a bit of a struggle for the Tory leader.

Senior Tories stepping down - one joining Reform

While all the rest might be the kind of political gaffes that happen from time to time on the campaign trail, the most damaging moments have come away from the cameras.

The number of Conservative MPs deciding to stand aside has hit a new post-war record, with the most notable names being housing secretary Michael Gove and former business secretary Andrea Leadsom.

More than 120 MPs have said publicly they were either standing down from parliament or not contesting their seat at the general election and 78 out of those were Conservative.

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